Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Monday, March 30, 2009

Heads Up Continued

So I mentioned that I'd been playing a bunch of these heads up SNGs on Full Tilt, with good results. So I thought I'd put down a few thoughts on how I play them to see what people thought about the strategy that I've developed, and to give me something to look back on in a few years and think "what a moron!"

1) I don't open-fold my button. Hardly ever will I toss away my hand from the button. It doesn't matter how bad the starting hand is, on the button I'm getting 3-1 on my money to call, and against a random hand, I could very well be good. I see my opponents throw away their button hands a lot, and I can't help but think that it's a mistake. And one reason I think it's a mistake is

2) I raise a LOT from the button. With any two cards. ANY two cards. Let's start with the fact that if I don't bet or raise, my opponent doesn't have the chance to fold. So by not betting or raising, I'm removing one of the ways I can win the hand. And since I'm going to have position on every other street, increasing the size of the pot when I'm in position versus the hands that I'm out of position is +EV. If you don't believe me, think about it this way - if we played 1,000 hands together heads up, and on 500 of them I had position and the pot was $120, and on 500 of them the pot was $40 and I was out of position, how much do you think I would make against an opponent of relatively equal skill over those 1,000 hands? Yeah, I don't know either, but having position is a huge advantage, and if I can play for more money when I have an edge, I'm gonna.

3) Bottom pair is huge heads up. Most flops miss most hands, so bottom pair is quite likely going to be good. And I'm certainly going to bet it like it's good, once again giving my opponent that opportunity to fold.

4) Your opponent is going to overvalue their draws. Not every opponent, and not every draw, but I've found a TON of opponents on these low-stakes SNGs pushing with flush draws and straight draws and nothing else. So if you value small pairs more than they value draws, then you'll be willing to call their shove with middle pair and let them stack off with a naked draw. Now sometimes they'll get there, but less often that they hope.

That's just a few things I've observed over the past couple of weeks. I'm sure I'll come up with more drivel as I play more of these things. So far I've run my last $80 into $200, jumped up to the $21 SNGs, hit a bad patch of variance (lost 3 in a row at 80% favorite) and dropped back to the $10.50 SNGs. I'll probably hang out at the $10 level until I get to three or four hundred in the bankroll, then move back up. I'll take occassional shots at higher levels now and then, but I don't plan on playing constantly higher than $10 until I have at least 20 buyins for the next level. That said, my bankroll management is usually for shit, so don't hold your breat for me to wait at $10 until I get to $400.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hero Call Revsited

So there were a couple of hero call moments at last night's home game that I was involved in. You can call them pressure points or whatever, but there were two moments that stick out in my memory as opportunities for someone to make a big call for a sizable pot, one time the call was made, the other time the fold was made.

The first situation was between me and Hot Brian the Red. It was pretty early in the evening, so neither of us had a real feel for how we were going to run yet. I had gotten off to a rough start, donking off about 1/3 of my starting stack, so I was sitting on about $30-35. Brian was ahead of me in chips, but I had position. I don't remember the board, but what it boiled down to on the river was I had called on every street with A-10 off suit, and the river put a flush or straight out there. Brian checked to me, and I moved all in. It was only about 1/4 the pot, but after a long think, he said "I just don't think I can be good here," and folded. He was good, but the line I took in the hand made him think that he couldn't be good. I played it like I was chasing, then played it like I hit. Brian decided not to make the hero call, and we went on with the evening. Part of my shove was an awfukkit move, where I found myself short and looking to rebuy, but the pot came close to doubling me up so I was back in decent shape.

The other hero call moment for me was against Nate. I was in the big blind, and Nate was under the gun. Not that position matters to Nate, but it frequently matters to his opponents. I hate playing Nate out of position, but have learned the tricks of it after years of practice. I'm pretty sure Jim the Knife raised, because it was his button, it was late, he had a bunch of chips and he'd played well all night. At one point he even commented that he was playing "sterling poker," and I gave him shit that after the 2-outer he caught on me, it was more like electro-plated. But I reciprocated by catching a 2-outer on Special K, so it was all good (at least to me, I don't think Special K caught a 2-outer on anyone, but that was his problem, not mine. If he'd play worse hands, he'd be able to suck out more :)). So I called the preflop raise with Ks-3s, because Brian called it and I figured if I called there would be a cascade of callers behind me, giving me odds with my shit hand. And in one of those patterns that makes people love my home game, it sparked exactly that cascade of callers.

So the flop came down 3-3-x with two diamonds, and I'm loving life. I check, Nate leads for $4, Jim calls, there might have been one more caller, and I raise to $10. Nate calls and Jim got out of the way. Turn is the Jd, and I lead for $10. Nate calls, and the river brings an off-suit duece. I fire another $15, and Nate moves all in over the top for another $52 or so. I go deeeeep into the tank, because while I have trips with a big kicker, the flush is out there. It's also not a bit beyond reason for Nate to have been calling me down with 2-3 or pocket twos and have filled up on the river. So I'm thinking. And thinking. And I think long enough to feel like I should apologize to the table, so I do. Then I ask Nate if he has the flush. He doesn't look at me. Then he looks at me like "what, I'm really gonna tell you?" Then I resume my think. Then I look at my stack. If I call and lose, I'm up $50 for the night. Then I look at the pot. There's well over $100 in the middle, so if I win, it's a gooood night for the home game. Then I think that thinking about booking a win is the wrong way to think, and I'm getting 3-1 on my $50 and if I can't call getting 3-1 on trips, king kicker. then maybe I shouldn't play poker.

Then I hit the thought that makes me call. Nate fired the river. Nate only raises when he thinks he has the best hand. He'll lead out at a pot to make people fold, and it's usually an overbet. But when he raises, he thinks he has the winner. And he doesn't wait to pull the trigger. So if he's raising the river, then that's the point where he thinks he has the winner. So either he thinks he's been ahead the whole time, or he thinks he got there right then. That takes the flush off the table, because if he'd hit the flush, he'd have raised the turn. So he's got a limited number of hands - A-3, 2-3,J-3, 2-2 and the like. Or he has the case three and a worse kicker. Or he has two pair and is absolutely crushed, which is not as unlikely a possibility as you would think, because Nate routinely overvalues two pair to his wallet's detriment.

So finally I decide to make the call, and he shows 9-3. I table my K-3 and rake a massive pot, bringing my win for the night to around $250 and putting my slightly back into the black for the year. I couldn't make that call in a casino. I couldn't make that call against many folks in our home game. But against that player, in that spot, with those relative positions, I can make that call. After a lengthy think.

Overall I played fairly well last night, with the exception of getting my money in as a 95% dog to Special K and getting there on the turn. I sucked out a few times, including flushing out Brian on the river, but I'd flopped the open-end straight flush draw, so I wasn't going anywhere at any point. It might not be mathematically correct, but I'm probably going to get my money in most of the time when I flop 15 outs twice. So I called him down, and when he asked me if I rivered the flush I told him and saved him the call. He said he didn't think he had that call in him, but I'm slightly looser a player than Brian. Slightly. There might be a comment or two coming on the use of the word slightly in that sentence. Let it be known that there is a variant definition of slightly that loosely translates from ancient Swahili into "astronomically." Then decide which definition I was using. So while I wouldn't say I played "sterling poker," I felt like I did a good job of picking my spots and capitalizing on my opponent's weaknesses. Like a weakness for playing good starting hands, leaving the crap flops to hit only me and Nate :).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's all fun and games...

Until somebody loses their job. No, not me. I'm still in good shape, and they show no signs of not wanting to continue to put up with me for a lot longer. But my company did become the latest to lay some people off today, and it kinda sucked. It really hit home to me what the leadership and population of our country did to our economy when friends of mine lost their jobs. Up until now, even when real-life friends lost or were afraid of losing their jobs, it didn't seem real. For the first time in a long time today, I was worried about my job. And that's not a good place to be in a single-income family.

Now, really, my job is as secure as anyone in the company, and the company is in no way close to folding. But we saw cuts in almost every office today, and that made some harsh realities come into focus for me. My offices were spared any layoffs, but the time may come when I am the person who has to make the decision of who stays and who goes, and I don't look forward to that day. I don't think it will come to that, I really don't. Our company operates with very little debt, and is very cash and inventory-heavy. But in a sales organization, when people aren't buying, it's hard to support a large sales force. So cuts were made today. And good people lost their jobs. I know, it's a reality that a lot of you have been seeing for months, and some of you have experienced firsthand, and for that I'm really sorry.

I hope that when we come out on the other side of this mess, and I have faith that we will, and in an America that is not terribly different than the one of a couple years ago when we went into this mess. I hope that when we come out of it everyone's opinions of money and the people that handle it are a little different. And I mea everyone - individuals, corporations and government. I hope that people in our country wake up an accept responsibility for their spending. I hope that corporations stop trying to cheat every nickel out of the system and just make and honest profit. I hope that our government finds a balance between oversight and free market that we can all accept and that will benefit everyone relatively equally. I don't really believe that all those things will happen, but I can hope. Right?

Sorry to sound so morose, I'm just a little shaken this evening. I've given my entire adult life to this company, and while I still have a job, and all my people are still employed, it still shakes one of the foundations of my life and livelihood to hear the word layoff associated with my company. So I'm a little scared. I'm a lot sad for the people that no longer work for our company. I hope that in a few months this will start to turn around and we can hire them back, and if not, that they'll find even better gigs somewhere else. And I hope all of you guys are ok.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Srsly? That's just cute!

Cutest. Computer. Ever.

9" screen, 120 GB Hard drive. 1GB RAM. Windows XP Home. 3 USB ports. Media Card slot. Wi-fi.

Just precious.

By the way, when I install the Jands Vista software on this computer, and add the M1 control surface (below), this little laptop becomes the light board for the Avett Brothers tour. The tour lighting tech will walk into a theatre with the laptop and M1 fader wing in a backpack, unpack the bag and plug into the house system. For less than 8 lbs, I can control over 500 lights!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Heads Up

So while I've been setting up computers and transferring files, I find myself with a pile of free time sitting at my desk in the home office. I can't really watch a movie or anything, because I only have so much processing power, and most of that is being used to move gig after gig of music and movies from one place to another. So every night I find myself firing up Full Tilt for a little pokery goodness.

And for a change, it actually has been good. I've been focusing on the Heads-Up SNGs, of the $10 variety, and have been pretty successful so far. I think I've run my $100 into about $170 so far, so I'm winning more than I'm losing. I don't track each SNG anymore, and frankly barely keep up with my progress in online poker, because most of the time I just don't care. But there have been some observations that I've made that I thought I'd share here. Please note that this is not a statistically relevant sample size, nor is there any real research put into this - it's just what I've seen. If you want well-written, thoroughly researched writing, check out Shamus. 'Cause it ain't gonna happen here.

1) The majority of the players at this level seem timid. I raise my button probably 90% of the time, regardless of what I'm holding. I want to put more money in the pot when I have position, and less when I don't. So I raise less when I'm out of position, and almost every hand on the button. My opponents don't seem interested in raising that often with the button, and not terribly interested in defending their big blinds, so I'm picking up a ton of orphaned big blinds.

2) There seems to be a lot of desire to get money in behind at this level. I value small pairs very highly at this level, as it's infrequent that both players actually hit a flop. I have seen several instances where an opponent will call me down on every street with no pair, and have picked up a few pots when my opponent got all their money in on a small flush draw with no pair. I tend to play pretty hard in these due to the passive nature of my opponents, but I'm also waiting until I pick up a pair at least to go to way. The number of people willing to go to war with nothing but a naked draw is pretty impressive.

3) It's easy to play these things one at a time, but I can't multi-table heads-up. I do much better when I can pick up betting patterns on my opponent, and I can't do that with multiple tables going. I'm pretty sure there's a simple mathematical formula that would make these profitable with less focus, but that's not what I'm interested in. I'm just killing a little time and trying to pad my roll a little.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend that was

So at one point Friday I twittered something to the effect of "Lee Jones is serving us homemade pizza in his kitchen while wearing an apron with sharks on it." Or something like that.

These are not words I thought I would be writing a few years ago. Aside from the fact that prior to watching the Moneymaker WSOP I didn't know who Lee was, I also would likely have laughed in your face if you told me that one day I'd drive 2 1/2 hours to play poker in a buddy's basement, then drive back the same night $100 poorer and happy to have done it. But that's exactly what I did on Friday night. I drove to the mountains of North Carolina to play poker and hang out with my friends. I was very successful at the hanging out part, less so at the poker.

But I didn't really care. Other than stacking off to Hot Brian the Red with my pocket Jacks on a K-K-6 board where he obviously had a king or else he never would have check-raised me there, I enjoyed the poker and thought I managed to avoid the worst of my typical errors. Except for betting with less than the nuts in Omaha. I will lose far less money in that game the day I learn to not get married to two pair early. But anyway, that day isn't here yet, so there it is.

I've been posting less and less, and not really minding. Because I've been pretty damn happy with the way things are going. Work is going well, life is good, and I just don't feel like I have a lot to get off my chest. So I post less. I keep meaning to work on some fiction, but I'm enjoying spending time with my wife on the rare occassions that I'm home. Maybe eventually.

I did finally get all my home media up and rocking along. I now have a Media Center PC going that's dedicated to music and video, with a bunch of TV shows and movies on it. And we won't talk about how they got there, will we? Good. I've got that jacked into an Apple Airport Extreme, with a 500GB external HD plugged into the Airport Extreme as a network HD. That was all 3 home computers can access whatever music is on the external disk. I have PlayOn installed on there as well, which allows me to stream Hulu, Netflix and CBS to my PS3, in addition to the other stuff on the Media Center PC. So far, so good with that. There was a period of difficulty when I realized that my earthlink email address (the address that I had my PlayOn code emailed to) was no longer any good since I switched over from earthlink to Roadrunner, but they sent it along to my Gmail, and we're good.

So in a little bit I'm gonna go home and watch Season 1 of Burn Notice. Because I can. And because Bruce Campbell is a badass.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stupid Spambots

Anyone wanna hazard a guess why I wasn't even the slightest bit tempted to click on the link when this warning popped up via Skype a few minutes ago?

Registry Scan
3:17 PM

ATTENTION ! Security Center has detected
malware on your computer !

Affected Software:

Microsoft Windows Vista
Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft Windows 2000
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
Microsoft Windows Win98
Microsoft Windows Server 2003

Impact of Vulnerability: Remote Code Execution / Virus Infection /
Unexpected shutdowns

Recommendation: Users running vulnerable version should install a repair
utility immediately

Your system IS affected, download the patch from the address below !
Failure to do so may result in severe computer malfunction.

PS - if you guessed that I'm beta-testing Windows 7, you're off by a little bit.

Song I can't get enough of...

Jessica Lee Mayfield was one of the openers for the Avetts New Year's Eve show. She sounds like a young Lucinda Williams, even if she's not old enough to get into some of the places she's booked to play.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Long strange weekend

At some point I'll collect the Twitter updates from last weekend and put them all into a blog post. Until then, just accept that I drank a bachelor party's worth of booze, hung out with a bunch of college kids, and generally acted like a kid half my age. I've almost recovered now, and the simple fact of sleeping in my own bed for a few days has been a huge help. That's pretty much over now, as I've got a trade show tomorrow, a workshop on Saturday and then back to Atlanta on Sunday. I'll catch up with you soon.

Monday, March 02, 2009

For the ATL Bloggers

The Falstaff roving party will be at Loco's Bar on North Druid Hills near I-85 tonight @7PM for pub poker. Come on out and join me!